Categories
Christian Living Prayer

Pencil, or Permanent Marker?

A video devotional from Our Daily Bread talks about the purpose of prayer. The clip shares how an interviewer once asked Mother Teresa what she said to God when she prayed. The Catholic nun and missionary replied, “I do not say anything. I listen.” The bewildered reporter followed, “Well, what does God say to you?” The tiny woman ended the conversation with this: “God doesn’t say anything. He listens.”

For all the prayers I’ve thought or said, there have been times when words simply wouldn’t come. Listening was my best option.

I know… we should approach God’s throne with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). But acting with such bold consistency isn’t always easy. Some life situations can (and do) leave you speechless. Especially when you don’t see them coming. So what should you do when you’d rather not pray to God in all CAPS with a permanent marker?”

Lord, do You accept prayers in pencil?

I say He does. Penciled prayers are “listening” prayers, spoken with groans that words can’t express (Romans 8:26-27). Is this what Mother Teresa meant when she said, “I listen?”

Yet Jesus said when a person prays in faith what they ask for happens (Mark 11:22-24).

But must we chisel our prayers in stone?

Nope. I’m not a “stoner.”🥺There are plenty of times in the Bible when folks on the ground got it ALL wrong. God makes it clear that He doesn’t think or work the way we do (Isaiah 55:8-9). Pencil and eraser prayers are fine by me, thank you. I may need to edit.

The devotional also noted that Jesus often went off by himself to pray. He spent the whole night like this before choosing His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). I bet He did more listening than talking.

“Prayer is spending time with the One you love,” concluded the woman on the video. AMEN! Permanent marker or pencil –speaking or listening–it’s about quality time with the Father.

“So let’s learn, let’s press on to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain waters the earth.” – Hosea 6:3 (NASB)


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Categories
Christian Living encouragement

Life Parade

I live in a small farming town in Southwest Oklahoma. There are 800 souls, one convenience store and a corner cafe. We have a few other businesses, including a new Dollar General (woo-hoo!), but you get the picture.

One of the biggest events in our town is the annual Christmas parade. There are custom made floats, tractors, antique cars and plenty of horses.

But lots of folks on horse back means plops on the parade route. (If you know what I mean.) And no matter how great the festivities, it’s hard to ignore the manure trailing down the middle of main street. This line of “used oats” is often in the camera shot of our local TV news coverage, much to our mayor’s chagrin.

But—like with most things—the good outweighs the bad. The Christmas parade provides a splendid opportunity for our whole community to come together. In the big picture, who minds a little manure?


Job was a guy in the Bible who had a lot more good in his life than bad. Until he didn’t. You know the story. He lost almost everything overnight: his livestock and crops, even his children. GONE. All he had left was his life, a pessimistic wife and a few ‘friends’ who came to cross examine him.

Yet what did Job say when he learned of his losses? “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21b -NIV) And what did he tell his wife when she told him he should, “Curse God and die?” He replied, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10 NIV)

As the old saying goes, “Into every life some plops must drop.” Okay, maybe I changed that up a little.🥸 Yet in this matter, many Christians today aren’t interested in learning the patience and wisdom of Job. We like our roses without thorns, thank you. But what if the best way to get there is to turn those thorns INTO roses?

One of my favorite “thorns to roses” moments in the Bible occurs in Jeremiah 29. God sends a letter (via Jeremiah) to the exiled Israelites living in Babylon. In a nutshell, He says: “I sent you to Babylon, but I want you to prosper there. Build houses, and plant gardens. Marry and have sons and daughters.”

In other words, make the good outweigh the bad. Here’s my favorite part:

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV)”

So, brave reader, whatever our “parade” is—yours and mine—we’d best pray to the Lord for it. Because if it prospers, so will we. And when there’s more good than bad, nobody minds a little manure.

But watch your step if you cross Main street.


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Categories
Christian Blog resilience

This Thorn

A recent post by CG Thelen, from 140 Character Christian, entitled Humbled by Pain spoke of Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). “Thorns can come in all sorts of things that cause us constant pain,” wrote CG

These words brought to mind a godly woman who once lived in my little town. She was twice widowed and confined to a wheelchair, yet had the sweetest Christian spirit. Most days she never ventured outside her home. But friends and neighbors lined up to see her or called her on the phone. People flocked to this dear sister because she had the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Each of us can probably think of a fellow believer who trusted God despite challenging circumstances. This leads one to ponder the unshakeable faith found in God’s holiest servants.

What’s the secret?

I never asked Mrs. Frieda, but she surely would have pointed me to passages such as Colossians 3:1-3, about the life that is “hidden with Christ in God.” Or Psalm 91:1, where David rested in the “shadow of the Almighty.”

One of another friend’s favorite quips is, “Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one and they’re all different.” It’s the same with thorns. And like Paul, any experience that draws us closer to God is a good thing.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8 (NIV)

Another favorite blogger, who speaks in power by God’s grace, is Ruth Kirk, of Seeking God’s Face Together. Her daily poems (complete with related scriptures) are like signposts along the narrow road to heaven. Please read her offerings. They are a blessing!

By God’s grace may we say in our weakness, “Lord, thank you for this thorn.”


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Portions of this post appeared in It will Keep, which was published on July 13, 2019.